ANKARA - A ceasefire announcement by Kurdish rebels is raising high hopes to Turkey to solve the decades-long problem through the shared belief in Islam between the ruling Islamist party and Kurds.
Motivated by an ideological point of view, (Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan believes he can manage the process through one big common point: Islam, Nihat Ali Ozcan, an academic from Ankara's private TOBB University, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan called Thursday, March 21, for a ceasefire in Turkey.
"Let guns be silenced and politics dominate," he said to a sea of red-yellow-green Kurdish flags.
Ocalan gave no timetable. All rebels would withdraw to bases in Qandil, which they have used as a springboard for attacks in Turkey.
The ceasefire announcement comes after Erdogan tasked Turkey's spy agency with negotiating with Ocalan to end a conflict that has claimed 45,000 lives since 1984.
I am ready to drink poison if it comes to that, the 59-year-old Erdogan has often said, even if it costs me my career.
Erdogan welcomed the ceasefire announced by the Kurdish rebels.
"From the time it is implemented, the atmosphere in Turkey will change. I believe in this," he said from the Netherlands.
Since coming to power in 2002 as leader of the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), Erdogan has introduced a series of reforms for the Kurdish minority including language rights.
Analysts say a solution to the conflict is a necessity in the wake of the Arab Spring revolutions in neighboring countries as northern Iraq and Syria.
Kurds are Sunni Muslims, who account for up to 15 million of Turkey's 74 million people.
Muslims make up approximately 99 percent of Turkey's population.
Analysts opine that Erdogan is betting his political career to solve the Kurdish problem.
By pledging to drink poison he made it clear that he is playing to make history, Abdulkadir Selvi, Ankara representative for an Islamic daily wrote.
Now he is walking to his destiny.
A solution to Turkey's ingrained Kurdish problem could etch Erdogan's name in history, in much the same way the abolition of slavery enshrined US President Abraham Lincoln's memory for Americans a century ago.
If he can do this and convince people that a political solution to Kurdish problem is on track and the conflict is over, yes, there is a chance that Erdogan can be the Lincoln of Turkey, Murat Yetkin, editor in chief of a local newspaper.
If Erdogan fails to lead this process, there is also a very good chance he will remembered as Turkey's Gorbachev instead, he said, referring to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev whose political and economic reforms led to the breakup of the Soviet Union.
A permanent solution might still take years, but analysts said it would strengthen Turkey's bid to become an influential democracy in the region.
The plans are so promising they could determine the future of Turkey and the Middle East, Birinci said.This should not be sacrificed for political ends.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net